DID YOU READ

Eight memorably disgusting cinematic meals.

Eight memorably disgusting cinematic meals. (photo)

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The most important event of last week was clearly the introduction of KFC’s Double Down, a sandwich that replaces the bread with chicken patties, to the mass public. I’m not going to try it, because I’m terrified that it could dehydrate me for the rest of the day (1380 mg of sodium!), but it’s certainly a food milestone of some kind.

In honor of the culinary Kraken being released upon the world, here are eight memorable cinematic meals, for better or worse.

Actually, just worse.

04192010_existenz.jpg“eXistenZ” (1999)

Everything in David Cronenberg’s world is potentially an orifice, and with food that goes double — think of Brundlefly explaining his diet or the diner where Viggo Mortensen works in “A History of Violence,” just waiting to serve up some cracked bones alongside the coffee. Enter the “gristle gun,” a hypnotically vile weapon made out of the ingredients of a not-quite-typical Chinatown lunch. To be honest, it seems like Jude Law’s whining about nothing, but there really is something fetus-y looking on the plate, which could undo anyone’s appetite.

04192010_ambrosia.jpg“Edward Scissorhands” (1990)

There’s a lot going on in “Edward Scissorhands” (aside from the leftover teenage self-loathing), but one of the nicer strands involves Tim Burton’s fascination with all things suburban. In the otherwise unilluminating DVD commentary track, he notes in passing his love of the kind of photos taken at Sears, with a smiling face posed against a formless blue background. Another aspect of suburbia that pops up is the “Ambrosia Salad” that Joyce (Kathy Baker) brings to the backyard barbeque, the weirdly pink fruit concoction she spoon-feeds hapless young Edward in hyper-sexualized style in front of all the neighbors. It looks nothing like what Wikipedia claims it should.

04192010_doom.jpg“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984)

The most problematic sequel of the ’80s arrived on a head of bad publicity, with levels of cartoonish gore and violence that led to the creation of the PG-13 rating (alongside the Spielberg-produced “Gremlins”; 1984 was a good year for Spielberg to destroy the fondness the parents of American felt for him after “E.T.”). Alongside complaints about the rampant stereotyping of India, some people were definitely not happy about Indy sitting down to enjoy a traditional Indian dinner of… monkey brains, live snakes and eyeball soup. Later, though, he has to drink blood (or at least the “Blood of Kali”), so clearly he was just getting started.

04192010_meat.jpg“Meat Love” (1989)

Jan Svankmajer’s career as a surrealist animator has often involved a fascination/revulsion with food — take 2000’s “Little Otik,” in which a child carved out of a log begins to display “Little Shop of Horrors” levels of hunger. You can speculate that it’s because Svankmajer, who grew up in Communist Czechoslovakia, was a member of a society where food was anything but disposable and thoughtless, but that still wouldn’t explain his queasy fascination with the tactility and weird feeling of meat against your fingers, as seen in the short below, in which two cutlets conduct a romance.

04192010_hannibal.jpg“Hannibal” (2001)

Before “Hannibal,” we were mostly asked to envision Hannibal Lecter’s cannibalistic escapades for ourselves. When Ridley Scott took on the franchise, though, he went all out, culminating in the infamous bit in which Lecter lobotomizes rude FBI agent Ray Liotta, cutting out a section of his brain, briefly pan-frying it, then feeding it back to him. It’s really only marginally more sophisticated than, say, “Cannibal Holocaust” — the veneer of culture Scott lays on is less than convincing — but it’s undeniably funny/gross.

04192010_oldboy.jpg“Oldboy” (2003)

After 15 years incarcerated by unknown people and forced to sit by helplessly while his wife is murdered and his daughter sent into foster care, Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) is not in a good frame of mind. So he wanders into a restaurant, announces he wants to eat something alive, and chows down on a live octopus — something the actor, bravely, actually did. (Eating live octopus in Korea is not unheard of — that it’s whole rather than chopped up is Park Chan-wook’s special touch.) Later, Oh falls in love with a sushi chef, which seems strangely appropriate.

04192010_taxidermia.jpg“Taxidermia,” 2006

Surely, György Pálfi consciously set out to make the most disgusting film in history with “Taxidermia,” a vigorous all-purpose assault of every revolting image you could possibly dig up — you have admire its sense of purpose. Palfi’s broadly allegorical portrait of Hungarian life in the 20th century uses speed-eating and the fetishization of consumption for its own sake as the starting point of its middle segment, which has lots of vomiting, morbidly obese people and saliva-clogged mastication. This is not for the faint of heart.

04192010_hell.jpg“Drag Me To Hell” (2009)

“Drag Me To Hell” is more prototypically a “Sam Raimi movie” than “Spider-Man 3,” but it has some echoes of that underappreciated flick. In “Spider-Man 3,” everything stops for a few minutes so that Bruce Campbell can camp it up as a very ’30s-style “French waiter,” officious accent and all. in “Drag Me To Hell,” the dinner awkwardness ante is upped when Alison Lohman meets boyfriend Justin Long’s parents; a class-tension-ridden dinner (the parents don’t like her homely cake) becomes more problematic when Lohman coughs up a fly. Unfortunately, this isn’t the worst thing that’ll happen to her in the movie.

[Photos: “eXistenZ,” Dimension Films, 1999; “Edward Scissorhands,” 20th Century Fox, 1990; “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” Paramount, 1984; “Meat Love,” Image Entertainment, 1989; “Hannibal,” MGM, 2001; “Taxidermia,” E1 Entertainment, 2006; “Drag Me To Hell,” Universal, 2009]

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.